Governments must work with business and other stakeholders to put the necessary conditions in place, said Subramanian Ramadorai, Chair of ICC BASIS, during the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) today.
The global tech visionary outlined his belief that governments and international institutions should ensure their Internet policy related decision-making activities were open and inclusive to all stakeholders on an equal footing.
“All efforts to continue to advance enhanced cooperation should be based on the commitment to openness, inclusiveness, and outreach,” Mr Ramadorai told CSTD delegates.
The extent to which business and other stakeholders should be involved in public policy issues pertaining to the Internet, referred to as ‘enhanced cooperation’, was discussed during a CSTD consultation at the end of ‘WSIS week’ (World Summit on the Information Society) last week.
Mr Ramadorai reiterated that the WSIS-Tunis Agenda, signed by heads of state in 2005, recognized the critical role of all relevant stakeholders on issues of Internet governance. The forward-looking agenda established a new multistakeholder process for Internet governance, which helped to established it as the model for global Internet policy development.
Furthermore, he stressed that greater cooperation between organizations could be achieved within existing frameworks, adding that the creation of new entities and processes would be “counter-productive”. The focus of enhanced cooperation should be cross-participation and engagement among organizations and stakeholders that have important perspectives on Internet governance.
In other remarks, the BASIS Chair highlighted how the Internet was transforming economies, industries, human societies and individual lives, describing Internet access as “one of the world’s most important resources”.
Making reference to two examples in India, he spoke of the Internet’s “potential to empower the marginalized and improve the lives of millions of people.”
The first example was DesiCrew, a startup company employing mainly women from rural areas, which has used broadband technology to set up Business process outsourcing centres for services such as insurance, market research and e-governance in Indian villages.
One of its projects provided women in Rajastan state with smart cards and involved opening bank accounts, providing health insurance and disbursing sums of money to disadvantaged women below the poverty line. Desicrew undertook the data-digitization for the scheme.
“This is a truly remarkable example where rural Indian women, with limited education and resources, have leveraged a vibrant technology platform to help transform the lives of other rural Indian women,” Mr Ramadorai said.
The second example was a citizen portal called MPOnline. The portal is a joint venture between Madhya Pradesh state and Tata Consultancy Services – the company of which Mr Ramadorai is Vice-Chairman.
The portal grants citizens access to a wide variety of government services such as land records and birth/death certificates over the Internet from anywhere and at anytime.
Linking these examples back to enhanced cooperation, Mr Ramadorai said these initiatives had become a reality because government, business and all relevant stakeholders partnered and cooperated towards meeting a common goal.
“These examples were only made possible because the necessary conditions – policy, legal and regulatory – were in place for such initiatives to take root and flower,” he concluded.
ICC BASIS members will actively contribute to CSTD meetings taking place during the week as well as discussions on science and technology to address development challenges, the CSTD working group’s report on improvements to the Internet Governance Forum (IGF). and a briefing on consultations to enhance cooperation on public policy issues related to the Internet.
In 2006, ICC launched its Business Action to Support the Information Society (BASIS) initiative to bring business experience to the processes and forums established by the WSIS summits, including the IGF. The IGF brings together all relevant stakeholders on an equal footing to discuss and share experiences on Internet policy issues.